Blog Post, Feminist Themed, Occupational Therapy

It’s International Women’s Day 2023 – What might this years theme mean to occupational therapy #EmbraceEquity #IWD2023

Acknowledgment –  International woman’s day is a celebration of all women, woman who are born woman or later become women. It’s important to understand intersectionality when exploring woman’s issues. People who identify as none binary need to also be recognised, they will experiences even greater inequity, all in society should understand and work to break down barriers.   This website has an accessible feature, that allows different accessible formats by simply clicking on a button labelled ‘Accessibility Menu’ that appears in green on all pages. It will provide you with a number of options to change the appearance to meet your accessibility needs.  This communication has been written by a dyslexic person. If you have any trouble with the meaning of any of the sentences or words, please do not be afraid to ask for clarification. I’m #MadeByDyslexia – expect creative thinking & creative spelling.

It’s International Women’s Day 2023 (Wednesday 8 March), which is celebrated every year and has been observed since the early 1900’s

This years campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity is a focus on gender equity and aims to spread the understanding in the difference between equity and equality. Below is an image that helps demonstrates the difference, showing that people start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging requires equitable action, to ensure they have access to opportunities.

Alt text – image shows a purple circle in background with an image of three purple figures on the left-hand side all representing different heights but standing on a green equal sign with the word equality underneath. To the right is an image of the same three figures standing at the same height because the green equal equal signs tested on different heights. The word equity is below this image.

Health equity was the theme of occupational therapy week in 2020 – and it really helped me think about the needs of those that access occupational therapy and how systems and institutions often add to inequity rather than break them down.

So how might our occupational therapy practice or intervention be inequitable?

The profession its self has a gender, class, race and able bodied bias, with a majority of those practising occupational therapy in the UK being white educated able bodied women, this even unconsciously will have an affect on how it is practised, developed and viewed.

Although there are many models of occupational therapy, most have been developed by those that dominate the profession, we still have work to do to ensure, that the models we use in practise are critically reviewed to challenge for gender stereotypes, ableist attitudes, drawing attention to bias, and seek out better inclusion. 

Thankfully the change has already began with some collective activism, from groups like AbleOTUK, BAMEOTUK and LGBTQIA+OTUK, but forging equity isn’t limited to those from these groups, it requires everyone to be open to listening; learning and understanding what impact the power they hold has on how the profession id practices, be prepared to take action, even if it feels uncomfortable and become allies.

Task – this international woman’s day take some time out to embrace equity.

  • Reflect on the systems you work within, your occupational therapy practise including models and frames of references you use.
  • Think about who and how they were develop and what might be missing from them, are they bias?
  • Are there some interventions you only do with one gender?
  • Why might this be?
  • How have you and how will you learn more and become an ally to diversity?

Thanks for taking the time to read this – Rachel

Blog Post, Feminist Themed, Politics

On International Women’s Day 8th March 2022. A Thank You to the women who shown their support during my two year battle with Covid 19 – #BreakTheBias

In memory of Sue, may you rest in peace. 

Acknowledgment –  Blogging is an occupation I enjoy engaging in, as an effort to appease and make sense of my thoughts. It’s a personal opinion piece based on my own experiences and observations. Any criticism within this blog is not to be taken personally, it is more a criticism of the systems the individuals sometimes have to work within.  This communication has been written by a dyslexic person. If you have any trouble with the meaning of any of the sentences or words, please do not be afraid to ask for clarification. I’m #MadeByDyslexia – expect creative thinking & creative spelling.

Regular readers of my blog will know I’m keen on a dictionary definition as a starting point to help, focus my thoughts.  The idea for this blog came about at the weekend whilst I attended a hendo in the lake district with a group of amazing women, who reminded me, that women are remarkable creatures that truly need to be celebrated, what better day to do that than the 8th March International women’s day. 

Finding a definition of ‘woman’ (plural women) however has its difficulties as in recent years, dictionary definitions have been challenged, as out dated and sexist.  The current definition in the Cambridge dictionary: an adult female human being.  This blog is not a debate on what defines womanhood, for me a woman is anyone who identifies as one.   

International Women’s Day IWD (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific. This years campaign theme is  #BreakTheBias We are being asked to  ‘Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.’

On international women’s day I want to reflect on the strong, supportive, focused, driven, compassionate woman I have met during my long recovery from Covid 19, and the impact they have had on my well-being and journey.  

There are so many women to thank, and I hope I have remembered them all.  

I guess the place to start is at the beginning, with the two female paramedics that collected me from home and took me to A+E, it was at the very beginning of the pandemic no one really knew what they were doing, they came in wearing face masks, listened, were gentle, I felt I was safe with them, they understood it was scary having to leave my partner behind due to the pandemic rules, and stayed with me, until I was seen by someone in A+E. 

The next few months are very hazy,  but I have memories of kindness, compassion and sheer brilliantness from woman working across both hospitals I spent over a year of my life in. These are a few that stood out for me. I will use first names when appropriate and where I remember them.  

To Rachel and the Physio therapy team at the Freeman – I remember a feeling of dread, at the things you were asking me to do, I was scared, in pain and  overwhelmed, but you did it with gentle encouragement, set goals and celebrated the little wins with me. I felt your determination to get me well again. 

To Ann and her Occupational Therapy team at the Freeman – I remember lots of laughing, lots of crying, lots of hand holding. Skills of problem solving evident in every intervention, ill-equipped environments and occupations like having a warm shower were made possible with your knowledge, kindness and determination. I felt respected 

To the two speech and language therapists who, worked on my swallowing, I remember you coming back week after week to try again, your words of encouragement when I could not swallow, and those facials that were beyond your work remit but very much appreciated. I felt cared about.

To the countless nurses, nursing assistants, ward managers and domestic staff in intensive care, and on ward 6 at the Freeman.  I remember you taking the time to plait my hair, and help manage it when it started to fall out.  Accompanying me to scans, wiping my tears, holding the phone when I had no strength, so I could speak to family, taking me off the ward in my hospital bed, to see the outside and feel the fresh air on my face, writing in my ITU diary so when was well enough I could read and understand a little of what happened to me. For sharing stories, and news from the outside world, appropriately sharing parts of your lives, for the Netflix recommendations.  I felt valued 

To the psychologist who visited regularly to help me, managed dark and low thoughts at a time I wanted to give up. I felt heard.

To my consultants secretary Hannah, who always followed up on requests for information from my mum when I was to unwell to remember, for your emails and phone calls since my discharge to arrange appointments and further surgery – I felt a personal touch that is often lost within large organisations.

To Dame Jackie Daniel Chief Executive, and the other women on the broad of Directors for Newcastle hospitals NHS trust, for doing an outstanding job on leading an outstanding NHS Trust as certified by the CQC, and by my 9 month stay in the care of your trust.   I agree whole heartedly with the CQC report, some how a culture of true compassion resides throughout your staff groups, this comes from compassionate leadership that values its staff. 

My experience of James Cook University Hospital was a little different, and I have to be honest in my experiences, the culture is very different.  I remember being moved wards a lot, poor communication with family, and restrictive practices that often felt like you were not seen as an individual, just a bed occupant.  However there were many exceptions to this and thank-yous to be made.

To the Dr who ordered me a curry because she could just see I needed a pick me up. 

To the ward manager and staff nurse who took the time to listen to my concerns, and tried to resolved them. 

To the ward staff that took the time to chat, pushed me down to the chapel and came back for me later so I could get some peace from the busyness of the ward.

To the women who worked in the shop, and help move things, but also let me learn how to manoeuvre in tight spaces as I learnt to use my electric chair, and recognised the improvement over time.

To the trainee Chaplin who visited at a time I was in isolation, and shared her remarkable story, and listen and sat with me. 

To the women on the patient liaison services, who responded to my many emails and tried to resolved my concerns around restrictive practises. 

To the Occupational therapist who understood, I didn’t need dressing practise or to attend breakfast club, but a quiet space to focus on writing my blog and the presentation I gave to a conference from my hospital bed.

To the woman from liaison psychiatry who I had weekly phone calls with to make sense of traumatic thoughts and memories of my time in intensive care. 

To Jane and Fiona my union reps who worked on my behalf to ensure my rights as a worker in the NHS effected by covid 19 were recognised, and catered for.

Thank you for shining a light and demonstrating that despite a culture that for me is not patient focused, you listened, you were kind, you noticed, you cared. 

To the incredible women I shared a six bedded bay with for 3 months of my life, you amaze me with your strength, understanding, and camaraderie.  Hearing a persons story is inspiring, witnessing its development is a privilege, thank you for sharing.  We had each others back, were able to sense when space was needed. I will always treasure this very odd time in my life and use it as a tool to remember even in a woman’s most darkest, weakest moments she is strong and holds a willingness to push back and find herself again.  As I think back to this time I am reminded of a favourite quote of mine. 

“Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”

Millicent Fawcett

Once home requiring full time care, there are many women to thank. 

To the carers that visited three times a day, of which at times I had issues with, feeling a burden, not heard and rushed.  Again there were exceptions to this. Carers that truly cared, took their time despite the absurd working conditions these women work under, showing compassion and joy in their work.  

Most carers that work in peoples homes are managed by care agencies that are privately own. Care-workers and the work they do are not valued by society, it is classed as unskilled,  but believe me, there is so much skilled involved, to do it right.  Most carers are only paid for the time they are scheduled to be in a persons home, not their entire shift and travel like those that work in a hospital or care home.  I can’t help but wonder if caring was a  male dominated profession would these work conditions be tolerated?   

To Vicky, Rosie and all the staff at Tees Nero physiotherapy, for taking me on, when others had given up, for your belief and determination that I would walk again, for the banter, belly laughs.  I would not be here upstairs in my house writing this without you all, I will forever be grateful.

To Sarah her mum and the other ladies I’ve meant during physio and hydro, for your knowing smiles, and words of encouragement. 

Finally to the amazing women I am so privileged to have in my life. 

The incredible online occupational therapy community who, sent my mum and partner messages of support when I was very ill, and when I was well enough to engage, sent me and those I shared a hospital bay with letters of encouragement and care packages. 

To Jennifer, my mother in law Colleen, Auntie Sue, Godmother Pam, Friend Jo  Who regularly called my mum when I was in intensive care, giving her the strength to carry on in which must have been the most difficult time, particularly during a world pandemic. 

To my sister in law Amy, and step mum Linda, for mucking in, and becoming part-time carers, giving my husband and mother well deserved breaks. 

To Kirstie, Kelly, Nichola, Rachael Jo and Janine for always being there for me and Anthony. For your Face-Times at a drop of a hat, just to listen to a rant.  For random gifts in the post that put a smile on my face. For the timely visits to ease the chaos , and the free Indian head massages.  But most of all for your friendship.

To the OTalk and AbleOTUK team members for your inspirational work and commitment to the profession and for the opportunitites being part of these groups of women has given me. I am beyond privileged to know and work with.

To my amazing niece Lyra, for your energy, you’re pure sassiness, and humour that motivates me to keep on going. 

To the women most of which I had never met before at what was the most enjoyable hendo weekend away, and the first time I have been anywhere without my husband or mum over night since being discharged.  What you didn’t know was the struggle it took for me to get there.  I had heard on the Monday that Sue, a lady I shared a bay with at James Cook had passed away and it shook me to the core. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t think I had the strength to be on my own, without Anthony, I didn’t want to feel a burden, that compromises had to be made for me to be there.  What I found which I should have know with it being Beccis hendo, was a group of women, that were accepting that didn’t see me and the wheelchair as an issue or a barrier, that included me in everything.  I heard stories of hard working women, holding things together during the last two years, juggling family life and work, some who had made life changing decisions.  We laughed a lot, drank a bit too much, and got covered in glitter,  Thank-you for reminding me how incredibly resourceful women are, and for your kindness, at a time I really needed it. 

To the reader- thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this, please share your thoughts and share this years theme #BreakTheBias, take a picture of yourself with your arms crossed and post it on social media.

And most finally to my Mum the woman that has always been there, always fought for me, always supported my choices, my ambitions, my dreams.  You are one incredible lady who chooses in her retirement to continue to offer her knowledge, skills and expertise to anyone who needs it.  Thank-you for teaching me how to be a woman with strength, integrity, for showing me that caring, and helping other women to succeeded is the best type of woman to be.


Feminist Themed

Let’s celebrate every women today.

The 8th of March marks international women’s day. A day that’s celebration can be traced back, 1908.

A day I have celebrated in some way for many years, often by posting on social media, meeting up with friends, and family and attending events. Last year we spent the day at Beamish with my family, we joined in a suffragette march, got questions by the police and had just the most amazing time.

This year, I’m spending it in hospital, surrounded by Women. Women that have been through it, but show the strength and determination of a thousand soldiers. Nursing staff that have worked throughout this pandemic and proved women’s worth, Physios, OTs, doctors, domestics and so many others, that work so hard to care for support, give reassurance and hope to many.

Tonight I hope to join a virtual celebration.

As I have lots of time on my hands I thought I could spend today, writing something about the women in my life that have shaped me.

Let’s start with family, of course my mother Mary, who would do anything to support her children, and their friends. Over the years she has fought for me to have a mainstream education, as people would see hemiplegia, and make so many assumptions. She became a governor at my school, and fought for so many other children to get the support they needed to succeed. She took some of my friends under her wing, that needed support, a roof over their head and guidance. She has always protected me, but also let me free to make mistakes and learn lessons.

Now she is a grandmother, she spends so much time teaching my niece, how to count, read, play, sing and be proud of who she is.

My grandmother Joyce died a few years ago now, but from her I learnt to look for the funny side, and how to care for cats.

Mine and my brothers auntie and godmothers, Sue, Carman and Pam, I learnt about my southern roots, faith and other cultures.

From my mums friends growing up, I learnt, that women can be whatever they want to be, they are intelligent, independent, free thinking women.

From my teachers I learnt so much, including the history of women’s movements that has fascinated me ever since. In particular I remember a history teacher, that liked to be addressed as Ms rather that miss or mrs. This is because unlike men, hearing your title immediately, tells you the marital status of a woman. I chose to use Ms.

The many identifying female friends I have had over the years tough me, although I was different, struggled physically and educational, I still had worth. There were some girls growing up that choice to bully and excluded me, but from them I also learn that sometimes it’s easier to disregard what you don’t understand, but it takes strength, love and support, to begin to see things differently. I’m sure many of those girls now have daughters or niece and regret how they treated others, they may have experience discrimination or loss. All I hope is they have learnt it might be harder to love, forgive and understand, but it sure feels better.

Other influences include musicians, activists, authors, politicians, actors, storytellers, new readers, historical figures.

In later years, networks of women both locally, and on social media have brought me comfort, inspiration, and validation.

The women’s suffrage movement, has always interested me, that they fought to been seen and treat as equals, that they asked for the right to vote, to own there own property, to have a career, even if they are mothers or wives.

The fact that there are still women in this world that still do not have these rights is beyond me. The fact that women in 1st world countries have to still fight to be treated and equals saddens me. The fact that some women take their education and lifestyle for granted, unaware of those that made that possible, disappoints me.

Please consider, others today and everyday. If a women hurts you, asks yourself why, don’t hate them back, ensure they understand the hurt they have coursed, forgive them and move on.

Let’s celebrate every women today!!

I hope I can have the strength to show, love, support, consideration and anything else the women in my life need.

Feminist Themed

Our Feminist Catholic Wedding – We are doing it our way. – Save the Date Blog

Today (12th September 2019) is a year until, we take our wedding vows, and also a year since we made rings and officially became engaged. Today we have chosen to send out our “save the dates” that included a link to this blog.


Planning our wedding so far has been more challenging than we expected and if we are honest we worry about others expectations and visions for our day, one thing we have in common is worrying about letting people down, and what others think, the last thing we want to do is make anyone feel left out, or unwelcome.

From our own experiences and from our research planning a wedding can be a stressful time, it’s easy to get caught up and believe you need all the extras, that the wedding fair’s push on you, but that’s not what makes a wedding for us. In the early planning stages the advice we got was – ‘it’s your wedding do it your way,’ and that’s what we intend to do, it might not be the most traditional, but it will certainly represent who we are as individuals and a couple.

Rachel is an intersectional feminist and Anthony a practising Catholic, so our day aims to combine these both.

How do you have a Catholic feminist wedding you might ask?  Well, this blog aims to answer that question, and in turn hopefully help you understand some of our thinking and decision making.

As a feminist, it was important to understand where traditions of marriage come from, and to ensure we did not carry out a tradition that upholds the idea of oppression or ownership, but also ensuring we respect the Catholic faith.

For those unfamiliar with the Catholic faith marriage is thought of as an equal partnership,  the primary purpose of marriage is the generation and nurturing of offspring; the second purpose is the mutual help of spouses, and the third is the remedy for concupiscence.

The Venue Choice

We have chosen to marry in Anthonys family’s parish Church in Blackhill, something very important to him, as many generations of his family have married there, followed by a celebration in Middlesbrough later that day.

The Marriage Course

To marry in a catholic church, you are required to complete a marriage course, although we joked about it in the lead up, we both found the day enjoyable and informative, it mainly focused on communication.  Marriage for both of us is a life time commitment. We know at times it’s not going to be easy,  however this course gave us some advice and techniques we plan to use throughout our life together.

The Hen and Stag Parties

In researching its history , we found that the stag party can be traced back to as early as the 5th century BC.  It is believed that the ancient Spartans would hold a dinner in the groom’s honour and make toasts on his behalf to celebrate his last night as a single man.

In Ancient Greece the Hen Party can be traced to a party referred to as the Proaulia, held during the last days before the wedding. The bride and her family would make an offering to the gods and later celebrate with a feast.

The modern pre wedding party has developed in to a whole celebration often taking up a weekend,  we are encouraged to dress up and make fools of ourselves often with reference made to what some might consider lewd behaviour,  that in turn might be seen as objectification.

At first, we talked about having a joint weekend away, but the more we have talked and planned this idea has lost momentum.

Rachel is planning on a weekend away with friends. I’m not into big nights out, and the thought of dressing up, and watching a stripper fills me with dread. I would much prefer, a nice cottage or hotel with spa, a comedy show, visiting historic sites or an art gallery to see Grayson Perry’s latest exhibition.

Anthony is planing a weekend away that will involve a group activity followed by a night out.

The Rings

Getting married was a decision we made together and to celebrate this we booked a ring making workshop and made each other silver engagement rings.  It was important that we both wore engagement rings as modern symbol of love and our plans to marry, as the history of the engagement ring is surrounded in ownership of woman.

The first ring was made from grass twisted into a circle, however due to the temporary nature over time what was used evolved from other plants to rope, leather and finally metal.

In the 2nd century BC the ancient Romans gave betrothal rings instead of high-priced gifts and dowries. This was a physical representation that a woman was taken and was meant to show ownership.

We also looked in to wedding rings having a religious meaning, and found that although the exchange of rings for marriage is not mentioned within the bible, other Bible passages show jewellery being used to symbolise a special bond between people.

We plan to embrace the symbolism of a bond between us rather than a symbol of ownership and plan to attended a further workshop to make our wedding rings together.

The outfits

The white wedding dress, is a common tradition in the western world, it originated with Anne of Brittany on her marriage to Louis XII of France in 1499, But it wasn’t until 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, that the white dress was made popular.

Up until the nineteen-hundreds, brides hardly ever bought a special wedding dress, opting for their best outfit instead, of any colour, both Rachels Mother and Grandmother did not wear white for their weddings.

We are at the stage of looking for wedding outfits, this is something we are going to do together, for me the colour of dress is not important, it’s more about what flatters my shape, so watch this space.

Shoes are also a concern for Rachel her disability means she has always had an issue finding shoes that support her.  Growing up wearing callipers, splints, and now specially made orthopaedic boots I have never and could never were a shoe with a heel.

I’m hoping that at the time of our wedding current treatment will have reduced the swelling in my right foot so I can wear a pair of Dr Martins the boots I lived in as a teenager,  although I want everyone to feel comfortable in what they are wearing if you own a pair of Dr Martins or have a comfortable pair of shoes we would love you to wear then in solidarity with Rachel.

The Bouquets

Interestingly this tradition of the bride carrying a bouquet was first introduced to mask the bride’s odour, Rumour has it, the scents of fragrant flowers were used to ward off evil spirits.  Traditionally, the bride also throws her bouquet. Rachel is opting for a non-flower-based bouquet, and she’s not going to throw it.  We have commissioned a bouquet made of paper and feathers, something we can keep and treasure.  Rachel promises to shower, and use deodorant and perfume on the day so hopefully won’t smell that bad.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.

Meant to bring a bride good luck, this poem originated from England during the Victorian Era. This wedding tradition, is full of well-wishes and embraces the past, present and future success of the newly married couple.

The old signifies the bride’s past, her heritage and how she got to this point. The New is an optimistic look at the couple’s future ahead. The borrowed symbolises the ongoing support from family and friends. It is a blessing for marital bliss and a pledge that you will have support when needed. The blue has been around since ancient Roman times, blue was worn to symbolise loyalty, fidelity, purity and love.

The more we have learnt, about this tradition the more we like it, but we have agreed that it’s not just the bride, and plan to uphold this tradition between us.

Not seeing each other before the wedding.

This tradition dates back to the days of arranged marriages, when marriage was more of a business arrangement than something done for love.  This is not a tradition we want to honour. We are planning a relaxing spa day the day before our wedding at will be stay in a hotel together in Durham the night before.

The Bridal Party

In the book of genesis (29:24, 46:18) Jacob, and his two wives Leah and Rachel, literally came with their own maids, a possible origin of bridesmaids. These women were handmaidens (servants or slaves) instead of social peers.

Some sources state that, in ancient times, originally the bride and all the bridesmaids wore exactly the same dress and veiled their faces heavily, for the purpose of confusing jealous suitors and evil spirits.

The tradition of the “best man” is thought to have originated with the Germanic Goths of the 16th century. He was the “best man” for, specifically, the job of stealing the bride from her family, and he was probably the best swordsman. 

Given some of this history which again is drowning in women not being seen as an equal to men.

Anthony has chosen to have his sister Hailey as his best person, although we are unsure of her swordsman skills.

Rachel has chosen not to have bridesmaids, we would however like to invite our friends children to get involved and if any would like to be flower people / aisle escorts they are more than welcome, to walk down the aisle, wearing anything they feel comfortable in. 

We also plan to have somethings to entertain children at the back of the church so please feel free to use this during the service, children should be children and noise is fine with us.

Being given away

While it is considered normal for the bride to be given away by the father, Catholics believe that the bride and groom give themselves to each other as equal partners. This means that the bride and groom should walk in together or be escorted by both their parents. While you hardly ever see this, it is what is recommended according to the Sacrament of Marriage teachings.

The tradition which dates back to the days when marriage was more of a business arrangement. Brides would quite literally be handed over to “a new owner, usually in exchange for money or dowry.

Rachel does not want to follow this tradition  it’s so important (just as her Mum did) that she walks down the aisle as the independent woman she is, and that no mention of being given away is referred to.  Anthony wants to wait at the foot of the alter to meet her as he wants the surprise of seeing her coming down the aisle. Be prepared for waterworks from either of us (especially Anthony). 

The Ceremony and Vows 

For us the most important part of the day, the part where we make a commitment to each other, in front of God our friends and family, and ask you to help and support us in our married life.

Perhaps a common misconception, the word obey does not appear in Catholic wedding vows. The word was introduced by the Church of England in 1549 when it released its first Book of Common Prayer.

We are still planning the hymns and readings, but there will be connections to our family’s history here, any suggestions would be warmly welcomed 

Confetti and being environmentally aware 

Where possible we are trying to be environmentally friendly, we would encourage people to share lifts or use the bus service we will be providing.  We ask that you do please consider the environment, and the church we are marrying in does not aloud confetti, due to the remembrance garden being located at the door of the church. Traditionally, rice was thrown at the newly married couple to encourage fertility, but it was the Victorians who first used shredded paper. Although we happy for people to bring and thrown confetti, when we arrived at the reception,  you might want to explore ideas on creating environmentally friendly versions,  like making biodegradable confetti with a hole punch and leaves. 

The Theme

We have had lots of ideas of themes, from Ghostbusters to the 1920s but the more we plan the more we go off the idea of having a single theme, but there will be elements of these themes plus others and things that represent us.

The Occupational Therapist in Rachel wants to have activities for you to engage in during the day, there will be things to entertain you on your tables and we ask that you share any photos of the day or things you are doing in the lead up to the day using our hashtag. #BoothGardinerWedding

The Cake

Most wedding rituals are to encourage fertility, and so it is with the wedding cake. The tradition began in the Roman Empire with the Romans breaking small cakes of wheat and barley over the bride’s head, the tradition was a symbol of his dominance in the marriage and over her.  

During the reign of Charles II, the three-tier cake with white icing we use today was introduced. The cake takes its shape from the spire of Saint Bride’s Church in London. The couple cuts the first piece together as a gesture of their shared future, whatever it might bring.

We have commissioned song bird bakery in Middlesbrough to make our three teared cake that Anthony has designed. 

The Party

Often the mostly costly part, we have made some compromises here, as there are some many people, we want to share the day with, we have chosen a venue for it size, convenience to places to stay and reasonable priced food.

The party will be held in Teesside Uni’s student Union, this is the University Rachel went too and holds many memories for her. (Transport will be provided for those that need it, please let us know your requirements on our wedding website which will be on your official invitation)

We are planning a Hog Roast Buffet meal with half being a traditional Hog roast & half being Parmo, to bring a bit of Middlesbrough to the event.

The Parmo is a traditional Middlesbrough dish, it consists of chicken or pork topped with a white béchamel sauce and cheese topping.

(If you are not a meat eater you will be catered for again please let us know your requirements on the wedding website.) 

The speeches’

Always Rachel’s favourite part of the wedding, tradition states that the groom, father of the bride and best man give a speech.  We will both certainly be giving speeches, but as we are not having a traditional bridal party, It’s important to us that you feel part of our day, so if you would like to say something at this point just get in touch and we will fit you in.

The Name Change

Rachel could write forever on this subject but we feel this blog is already to long,  however this article perfectly explains her thinking when it comes to changing her surname.

The choice to take your husband’s name or keep your maiden should be a choice made without judgement.

As explained in this article the history of changing surnames for women is again surrounded in the ideas of ownership, and by the end of the article the writer states ‘To abandon my surname and take that of my partner would mean abandoning me, along with all her luggage — the errors, achievements and resonances created over the years. I would become, first and foremost, my husband’s wife. And that’s not the whole of me. So when it comes to my own wedding day I will be “ambitious,” “pert” and “forward”. I will keep the name, and its luggage. And as I sign my unchanged name, I’ll think of all the women who made it possible for me to do so.’

Although I love her words in my own research of those within the suffragette movement, I found that many like Middlesbroughs first female Labour councillor Alice Schofield Coates and her sister in law Marion Coates Hansen, chose to double barrel their names upon marriage.

The idea of keeping Rachel Booth with all her errors, achievements and resonances created over 37 years is a must, but to also to acknowledge that we are making a life choice to tie ourselves together until death us do part, doing as those pioneering women did by double barrel feels right.

We have discussed this a lot, and feel we want to have the same surname so once we are married will both become Booth-Gardiner’s.   Ms and Mr Booth-Gardiner in-fact (keeping the Ms which I switch to using a few years ago)

We hope this has helped explain our thinking and we would love you to get involved, join in the spirit of the event and share any ideas this blog might have sparked. Most of all we just want everyone to feel comfortable and have fun.

Love Rachel and Anthony.

Feminist Themed, Occupational Therapy

Protest as occupation, following in the footsteps of women before me.

If you google ‘protest as an occupation,’  you will get lots of hits for protests that occupied buildings. As Occupational therapists occupation refers to everything you need to, want to or have to do, from waking up to going back to sleep again.  At this year’s Royal College of occupational therapists conference one of my favourite presentations was an occupation station about the occupation as protest.  

Having attended a protest today,  following Boris Johnson’s move to shut down Parliament, and after engaging in a conversation with a friend, it sparked and idea for this blog. 

Why do we protest? 

After a little online research,  (I know not always the best resource) I read a few interesting articles and blogs. One article about Art Markman, a Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, particularly interested me.

Art wrote, ’ I’ve been really interested over the years in motivation and trying to understand the factors that motivate people,” “Those motivations affect both people’s performance in tasks, as well as the evaluation of that performance.”

His interest in motivation led him to write several articles on the topic, drawing on other people’s research and trying to bring more psychology into the discussion.

He found that people who have an issue with something that is important to them rarely start with violent protests first. “What they normally do is work through other channels to try to resolve the issue that they’re having,” says Markman.

When this doesn’t provide a satisfactory outcome, they will next try protesting in a public, but inoffensive way. “You’ll see people holding signs or writing articles or doing things that are outside of, say, the legal system, but still within the general bounds of what we consider to be civil discourse,”

If this does not work, the next step is getting people’s attention by offending them. Markman says the psychological mechanism for offending others is to transgress their so-called “protected values.”

As I read this, it screamed occupational therapy to me, understanding what motivates people to be able to engage in the occupations they need to or want to do.  


Within the Royal College conference’s occupation as protest presentation we were asked to think about protest in its widest terms. 

The act of engaging in a protest like I did today, But also why our service users may protest against injustice, these may include the treatment services are trying to engage them in.   


Is challenging behaviour the result of motivation, to protest against something someone is not happy with?  

As occupational therapists do we explore the reasons why people do not engage,  or show behaviours that could be interpreted as protesting?  

I find a lot of meaning in the occupation of attending a protest,  it allows me to express my thoughts and feelings,  and makes me feel like I’m part of something.  All important aspects to a persons well-being.  

However the act of protesting is difficult due to my disability,  i’ve been on one rally in London, ‘ I loved every moment of it, the feeling of solidarity,  it happened to also be the day that Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as leader of the Labour Party,  so the atmosphere was electric. But moving in the crowd was difficult,  and walking the long distance was painful,  I don’t think I can do that again.  Today’s protest was more standing and listening and it was only for an hour,  Although I have had to rest for the rest of the day.  It was worth it. 

When I looked around at today’s protest I saw meny in wheelchairs, scooters or using walking sticks,  so that says something about the motivation to protest, overcoming difficulties  in order to engage in this occupation that was important for those who attended today. 

Feeling part of something,  feeling like you’re making a difference,  feeling like you’re telling the world about injustices,  it’s a very important occupation.  But how can we make the act of protest more accessible for others? 

In the 21st-century social media has become a big part in both organising,  and allowing people to engage in online discussion and protest.  But for me it doesn’t have the same feeling as being there in a crowd with others.  

What other occupations could be seen as an act of protest? We could create art,  boycott organisations that serve themselves over the needs of others.  Be more conscious, in the ethical values of the services and products we use. 

Does Protesting alone make any difference? 

It’s a place to start, a place to form ideas and learn from others. The suffragettes had the slogan,  deeds not words,  but the suffragists let by Millicent Fawcett followed her words ‘courage calls to courage everywhere and its voice cannot be denied.’

I often debate with myself whether I would’ve been a suffragist or a suffragette.   I admire all women that fought for us to have the vote,  and I’m sure they would be a shame to see what is happened to democracy today.  But I think I would’ve followed in Millicent’s footsteps.  She lead rallies and marches, always peacefully but also lobbied MPs, and policymakers.   Yet it’s the suffragettes,  their violent acts, and hunger strikes that we remember.  

Perhaps there is a place for both.  

Does protesting change minds?  

I’m unsure if I’m honest within a work context I think we still have a long way to go in understanding the act of protest, in a wider context history shows us that protests can play a part in change.  

I love reading good night stories to rebel girls to my niece Lyra who accompanied me on todays protest, one story from history that springs to mind is Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus. Following her defiant act, a boycott of the bus services spread until, The US Supreme Court  a year later made segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — Rosa Parks

With her words in my mind,  I’m given the motivation to carry on with the occupation of protesting.   



 Good night stories for rebel girls.

Feminist Themed

When you know you know –  So we made rings.

fullsizeoutput_47c3Regular readers will know that in the last couple of years,  this blog has focused less on

Therapy a more on my recovery journey after breaking my hemi leg.

This experience has change me in so many ways,  One of which was to begin to concentrate on me a little more and in my last blog post, I talked about how I had met someone, that I now planned to spend the rest of my life with.

I honestly never thought I would meet someone (sick buckets at the ready), that understands me, challenges me,  loves me faults and all, with such honesty, passion and  consideration.

Being in a committed relationship takes work and compromise.   (I’m still learning)  Marriage has never felt important and if I’m honest, I always saw it as a way to control women,  marriage is still full of traditions and expectations of which as a feminist make me feel very uncomfortable.

The idea that the man asks the woman’s father for permission,  then is expected to propose buying an expensive ring that the woman then wears as if she is now owned,  than thats the mans job over and the woman is expected to take over,  plan the day and look amazing in a white dress, feels so very odd.   But for Anthony as a Catholic and from a loving family where marriage is respected and worked on.  Showing the world that you are committed to this person is an act of love and respect.

It’s the social pressures and expectations that are the things about marriage on reflection I have an issue with, and when Anthony says I’ve been googling how to have a feminist  wedding,  you know you have landed with a good one.

We have talked at length about our hopes, wishes and desires,  we both want the same things,  and I’m now in a position,  where I feel comfortable with the idea of marriage,  as long as it’s done our way, and for us.

So I would like to say that today was an exciting day.   We recently made a joint decision to get engaged and eventually get married.  Today we attended a workshop and made each other rings to mark this joint decision, and a celebration of our future plans together.

We could not be happier.